119 Montanans and 5 non-residents were drawn from among 7,125 applicants for a license to hunt bison in Montana this winter.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission in August approved the sale of 95 either-sex bison licenses and 45 cow/calf licenses for use between Nov. 15 and Feb. 15. The hunting will take place in two separate areas over four time periods. The time periods are Nov. 15-Dec. 31, Jan. 1-16, Jan. 17-31, and Feb. 1-15.
In accordance with state law, a total of 16 of the licenses will be allotted to Montana’s Indian Tribes. A total of 6,871 Montanans and 254 non-residents applied for the remaining 124 licenses.
Hunters will be able to pursue bison on about 460,000 acres, or nearly 720 square miles of wildlife habitat, that are available for bison near West Yellowstone and Gardiner. Officials said hunters this season will most likely find bison on about 60,000 acres of the habitat available to them, but wildlife mangers are hopeful that as the years progress bison will gradually learn that they can inhabit and graze additional areas as they search for food in winter. The current Yellowstone bison population is 3,900 animals.
Bison hunters will be required to attend special orientation sessions where all aspects of hunting bison will be discussed. This hunt is Montana’s second bison hunt in recent years. Public bison hunts are well-established in several other western states, including Alaska, Arizona, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
Some bison that migrate into Montana carry brucellosis, a disease that can cause cows to abort, or result in premature and weakened calves, which in turn can increase operating costs and affect the ability of all Montana cattle ranchers to transport and sell their products.